It’s done! And, yes, I intend to go revisit some of those earlier lists as time permits, to annotate them better. Unlike news posts, I figure these lists are a bit timeless- at least, if you’ve not yet seen the earlier lists, then those ones still may have great songs in them to be discovered for someone. I’m also liking the current format, with the album covers and links, so unless I hear complaints against it, I’ll upgrade the earlier lists at some point to include links and album art too. I love all the pretty pictures bands use to display their music, and the more we enjoy all our music electronically, the less often we see and appreciate these pretty covers. Anyway, here’s the list. Happy Listening!
1. 1. “She’s Always a Woman”- Celtic Thunder (Voyage): Neil Byrne, the soloist for this Celtic Thunder cover tune, has one of those voices that sounds approachable and nice, the guy next door, not the virtuoso celebrity singer. Of course his range is better and his tone is clearer and well trained from years of practice as a professional musician, and it just takes trying to actually sing along to one of Neil’s songs to appreciate his voice. He has a breathy tone relative to the rest of Celtic Thunder, which suits love songs like this one very well. Oh, if only he was singing this one with me in mind! 😉 I’m looking forward to the start of Neil’s tour with Ryan Kelly in a few months, so that I will have more excuses to feature this lovely man more. He and Ryan are by far my favorite Celtic Thunder singers, but lately it seems like my blog is turning itself into a Keith Harkin and Paul Byrom blog. I’m alright with my blog taking on a life of its own, within reason, but its high time I had more of my favorite singers on here again.
2. “Summertime Blues”- Eddie Cochran (101 Rock n’ Roll Classics): This was my anthem in middle school, fitting in nicely with my daydreams about campaigning for more rights and representation for kids in state and federal governments. I was appalled that everyone seemed so unconcerned about applying laws and standards devised by adults on kids who were categorically excluded from participating in the democratic process generating those laws and standards. I wanted laws creating the equivalent of bike-lanes but for golf-cart sized vehicles for kids, so I could drive myself around, and I wanted to either place youth legislators in every legislative body in the US or establish that kids were being held by force in what was effectively a dictatorship, having never been allowed to give meaningful consent. Kids are, after all, not considered full citizens yet, and thus do not enjoy either the full rights of citizenship or the opportunity to exercise the full responsibilities which come with being a US citizen.
3. “Almost Blue”- Diana Krall (The Girl in the Other Room): Diana Krall is one of David Foster’s artists under his revamped Verve Music Group label. So far it seems that Mr. Foster is on track to creating quite a reliable new label, if his artist choices so far are any indication. In the ideal world music labels would bring together artists that fit with the music tastes of its executive leadership. Once you found a label that produced music you love, you would be able to find other great music by checking out the rest of that label’s artists. Diana Krall sings bluesy jazz, so her music is very different from what Keith Harkin does, but one could imagine quite a few people would include Keith Harkin, Diana Krall and Rod Stewart in the same personal music collection.
4. “Angry Johnny”- Poe (Hello): I loved this song when it was popular on the radio. It’s so violent, but so pretty, all at once. This is a woman who can be angry and vengeful, a tough and dangerous person, without having to lose her poise. I respect women who take on more traditionally masculine aesthetics in order to express themselves more clearly and accurately, but I do like a lot of the ‘feminine’ aesthetics I picked up as a girl. I love the idea that one can be strong, powerful and dangerous, while still being beautiful, pleasant and polite.
5. “Muddy Waters”- If Birds Could Fly (Ghosts): This is a band from Virginia that I would love to see live, one that turned up as a ‘related artist’ on spotify a while back, but would fit in nicely in a music festival with SHEL, Catch Bees, You Me & Apollo, Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Katie Glassman, and all the rest of my growing list of favorite local music acts. Until the day I happen across a local show, free or on a day when I actually have money, I sadly won’t have an album in my photo collection for these folks, but they’re on my list. Ghosts is their latest album, released earlier this year.
6. “Caledonia”- Patrick Feeney (This Is Me): I absolutely love Celtic Thunder’s version of this song- it is after all the first Celtic Thunder song I ever heard, and the one for which I bought my first Celtic Thunder album. But this song is a classic that was originally sung by a guy with a guitar, not 5-6 guys in harmony with orchestral accompaniment. Patrick Feeney’s rendition of this song is as appealing as the Celtic Thunder version, but Mr. Feeney’s version could be performed by guys with acoustic guitars on a small stage.
7. “Long Long Way to Go”- Lionel Richie (Just For You): Classic voice, gospel choir, and a nice straightforward song with a catchy chorus. We do need to come up with categories that better express the diversity of music, btw. Amazon lists Mr. Richie as a pop artist, which I suppose is where Keith Harkin and Darrell Coyle fit in as well, but looking at the wide range of music subsumed under the term ‘pop’, I’m hoping we can be creative enough to come up with better terms. I suspect there already are better terms, actually, but thinking about how tough it was for radio and music stores to decide what genre Josh Groban sings in, I suppose a lot of people just give up and call it all ‘pop’ now.
8. “Atlanta (featuring Denison Witmer)”- Catch Bees (Newman’s Open Choir): Another cool song from one of my favorite recent albums. I saw this band last night, and they are easily as good live. The music on Newman’s Open Choir is complex and involves ~10 different musicians, while Catch Bees is actually a trio, so their live sound is not a duplicate of their album, but still incorporates the complex richness that makes the album so addictive.
9. “Tha Na H-uain Air An Tulaich”- Bodega (Bodega): Yes, more Gaelic music. I’m still trying to work on learning these very challenging but fascinating languages- this beautiful song is in Scottish Gaelic. Also, notice how different this one is from some of the other Bodega songs I’ve included in past lists. This groups is another I’d love to see live, and this album is fantastic. Sadly Bodega disbanded in 2011, but as we’ve seen with the histories of some of the bands I liked in the 80’s, maybe at least some of the group will turn up on stage together again by the time I get to hang out at UK music festivals with my camera.
10. “Ain’t No Sunshine”- Mark Eitzel (Music for Courage and Confidence). A great key for me to sing along with, and a great classic song I’ve known for many years.
11. “Tomorrow”- Europe (Out of This World): Just try to listen to this one without wanting to sing along, or at least sway in time to the music. My poor neighbors probably know all the words by now, though to be fair, I also know all the video games the guys overhead play, and have the pleasure of laughing at them whenever they mass up playing Guitar Hero. In fact by comparison, they may not always be sure they even have neighbors, so if they occasionally have to deal with a bit of my late night 80’s hair ballad sing-alongs, I’m sure they’ll survive. Mr. Tempest was so dreamy-looking in the video for this song, that contemporary women might even forgive him his poodle-like curls and fall in love with him anyway.
12. “Jag saknar dig mindre och mindre”- Melissa Horn (Innan Jag Kände Dig): One of the challenges of including world music (non-English) on these lists is that it is not always easy to find the sites where US listeners can buy the music. I’ve never used the site I linked to here, but I can’t read most of the sites which sell this album. I’m still working on a way to add a few more hours to the day so I can study more languages (including Swedish) without losing the ones I already have been learning. In the meantime, this album is available on spotify, and if anyone wishes to suggest better sources for buying this album for buyers outside the EU, feel free to leave a comment. Melissa Horn’s music is gorgeous, and I’m sure that many of the folks who stumble across my blog would really enjoy her music.
13. “Steal Away”- Celtic Thunder (Take Me Home): I love the harmonies in this song, regardless of when it was recorded. The arrangement and balance change a bit as Damian ages, and as members of this group retire/ graduate and are replaced, but this is such a pretty song, and so easy to harmonize that it sounds great with any assemblage of Celtic Thunder singers. (Actually, if they ever do a Celtic Thunder reunion show, with all the current and former singers together for one song, this one would only sound cooler and richer with more voices.)
14. “All Your Beautiful Trees”- Devics (The Stars At Saint Andrea) This one’s a haunting, kind of creepy, ethereal tune. Very pretty, with an odd and addictive lingering aftertaste.
15. “Girl in the Telescope”- The Greencards (The Brick Album) They can’t all be creepy. This tune’s fun to sing along to, and it’s far more uptempo and upbeat than some of the others on this week’s list.
16. “Calgary”- Bon Iver (Bon Iver): Celtic Thunder fans will no doubt recall that on an earlier video Q&A the singers all told the camera what they are listening to lately, and several of them were really into Bon Iver. I always think of those guys now when I listen to Bon Iver, which over time has probably made me like Bon Iver music more than I otherwise might. Still, this song is one I get stuck in my head, often without remembering which song it is. The album art on this album is lovely, too, one of my favorite album covers, alongside the Newman’s Open Choir cover and that Lisa Germano cover with the birds on it.
17. “All Along the Watchtower”- Chris De Burgh (Footsteps): One of my favorites within this playlist. I had this list playing in the background on repeat last night while working on my latest photo albums, and it played through several times before I got to a point where I could pick up my cat and head off to sleep for the night. All the songs on this list are excellent, but this one caught my attention every time it came on. The lyrics are enticing, and especially late at night, its imagery is the sort that inspires great daydream adventures.
18. “A Deeper Tone of Longing”- Mahsa Vahdat, Mighty Sam McClain (A Deeper Tone of Longing:Love Duets Across Civilizations): Mahsa Vahdat is a Persian singer who was featured on an earlier playlist here with a song she had on the Lullabies from the Axis of Evil album. She has a lovely voice and an interestingly distinct sound that makes a nice contrast with the voice of blues singer Mighty Sam McClain. This song is the title track off of their second duet album together, A Deeper Tone of Longing: Love Duets Across Civilizations, which just came out in August 2012. The only song on this album that is available on spotify right now is this one, a probably prudent compromise between using spotify to promote music and giving too much away free. So, while there won’t be many more tunes from these duet albums on future playlists until they are available on spotify, these are still highly recommended albums and artists. Both Mahsa Vahdat and Mighty Sam have other music available on spotify too, which may find its way to future lists.
19. “Valley of the Dolls”- Marina and the Diamonds (Electra Heart): Pretty and uptempo, with a healthy dose of creepy and unsettling, this tune is upbeat while still creating a mood which leads nicely into the last song on the playlist this week. This band is Welsh, btw, so another one I’ll probably need to take a vacation to see live, but I’ll get there eventually.
20. “7 O’Clock News/ Silent Night”- Simon & Garfunkel ( The Columbia Studio Recordings (1964-1970)): The news track on this tune is a bit old and historical now, but especially with all that has been going on in Southwest Asia and the Middle East over the past few years, I think most contemporary listeners will be able to relate easily to the tension Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel set up, layering their classically harmonized “Silent Night” over a news report from the Vietnam Era.